Oakridge Youth Summer Employment Program


2018 Summer Youth Employment Program Recognition Luncheon

On Wednesday, August 9th, 2018 46 students graduated from our Youth Summer Employment Program (YSEP). We celebrated at the Wakonda Club, to award our students with a certificate and to celebrate their achievements.

YSEP provides subsidized employment opportunities for low-income high school-age youth each year. We provide eight weeks of paid part-time (20-30 hours) work experience at non-profit and public agencies throughout the Des Moines metro in conjunction with job skills workshops, career exploration, and development opportunities.

Our students come away learning the direct link between academic achievement and future career aspirations, the necessary skills needed to find and keep a job, and the value of giving back to their community through service learning projects.

Scroll below to read stories from a couple of our students who had the chance to participate this year in YSEP.

Thanks to all the business/ companies who allowed our students the opportunity to learn and work with them.

To learn more about YSEP or how to get involved, please contact the youth department director, Vernon Johnson, at 515.244.7702 ext. 139, or email youth@oakridgeneighborhood.org.

~Program Participants~

  1. Sauda A. Abdullahi — Youth Department Administration
  2. Idriss Abdullahi — Adult & Family Services
  3. Nasro A. Ahmed — BE REAL Academy
  4. Yahia A. Ali –OASIS Variety Center
  5. Jayda Allen — Iowa Department of Human Rights
  6. Teddy Barnaba– OASIS Variety Center
  7. Noordin Bille– OASIS Variety Center
  8. Nyawiech Billio– Des Moines Parks and Rec
  9. Arianna Brooks– Youth Conservation Corp
  10. Jordan Colbert– Youth Special Projects
  11. Macky J. Doctor– OASIS Variety Center
  12. Ikra Farah– OASIS Edmunds Elementary
  13. Amran Farah– Youth Department Administration
  14. Emmanuel Glahn– OASIS Edmunds Elementary
  15. Sofia A. Hassan– OASIS Edmunds Elementary
  16. Abdifatah Hassan– Play City and Wading Pool
  17. Gerald James– Play City and Wading Pool
  18. Jotha Jang– BE REAL Academy
  19. Nyadeul Jieng– Des Moines Parks and Rec
  20. Prince Jelleh– Play City and Wading Pool
  21. Baxtyr Johnson– Youth Special Projects
  22. Aroda L. Kalifa– Play City and Wading Pool
  23. Tekeze Kalifa– Hy- Vee Food Stores
  24. Simone Kapayou– OASIS Variety Center
  25. Freweini G. Kawaja– Oasis Edmunds Elementary
  26. Abino Khalifa– OASIS Variety Center
  27. Madam B. Kuany– OASIS Variety Center
  28. Kierra Lewis– Development and Communications
  29. Nydek Lock– OASIS Edmunds Elementary
  30. Muhumure Nzabakiza– Play City and Wading Pool
  31. Bonke Nganire– OASIS Variety Center
  32. Prince V. Nyaen– BE REAL Academy
  33. Prince B. Nyaen– BE REAL Academy
  34. Gentile Nyamadolari– Play City and Wading Pool
  35. Ayor M. Nyariel– BE REAL Academy
  36. Lidia Oule– Jewels Academy
  37. Antonio M. Oule– Adult and Family Services
  38. Lily J. Overstreet– Des Moines Social Club
  39. Levo Rekyte– City of Des Moines PIO
  40. Jaylnn Roberts- Lewis– OASIS Edmunds Elementary
  41. Nama Snduk– OASIS Variety Center
  42. Azaree S. Shakshak– BE REAL Academy
  43. Alex Shukuma– Smokey Row
  44. Kennedy Stone– OASIS Variety Center
  45. DaeVonna R. Strickland– John R. Grubb YMCA
  46. Zpierra M. Winters– BE REAL Academy.

Oakridge Neighborhood would like to thank the following organizations and programs that provided employment opportunities for the 2018 Summer Youth Employment Program:

  • Iowa Department of Human Rights
  • City of Des Moines Parks and Rec
  • Hy-Vee Food Stores
  • Des Moines Social Club
  • City of Des Moines Public Information Office
  • Smokey Row
  • John R. Grubb YMCA
  • Jewels Academy
  • Hy-Vee Food Stores
  • Youth Conservation Corp
  • Oakridge Neighborhood Work Sites

Lilly & the Des Moines Social Club

Every summer Oakridge Neighborhood provides employment opportunities for low-income high schoolers, including ten weeks of paid, part-time experience at nonprofit and public agencies. The Youth Summer Employment Program (YSEP) has immediate benefits- staying busy and earning a paycheck- but countless long-term benefits as well: YSEP participants know the value of work, the value of giving back to the community and how academic achievement is essential to one’s career goals. This summer we decided to hear back from some of the participants and see what they learned throughout the summer and how they have benefited from the program.


“I spent the summer working as an intern at the Des Moines Social Club under the direction of Brand Watkins, their Director of Development. The first day I remember feeling a combination of nervousness, anxiety, and excitement, mainly because this was my first job! From that first day forward, I learned how to do a variety of tasks, such as: working with spreadsheets, researching marketing information, proofreading pamphlets, filing, and even painting.

Coming into the Des Moines Social Club without any previous job experience, I expected to discover and learn how to develop work skills, as well as hot to handle particular information. For example, I have learned how to successfully and proficiently conduct research on surrounding organizations situated in Des Moines, how to nearly organize information, so it’s accessible and useful, and how to efficiently and professionally set-up workspaces for incoming guests and performance groups. However, although I learned several valuable skills that will help me in the future at other jobs, I also indirectly absorbed other important social and life lessons. For instance, I learned what to do and how to handle situations when clients or guests approached me with question or concerns. I also learned how to be socially respectful and believe appropriately in an office setting with coworkers and supervisors; and maybe most importantly, I grasped how vital it is to always have a positive attitude with everyone–both in and out the office.

Working at the Des Moines Social Club has prepared me for future employment and career opportunities. Now, I can converse with strangers and coworkers in a professional manner while maintaining eye contact the entire time! Plus, I gained experience with various technology tools that companies currently use, as well as a new sense of appreciation for the arts and how they truly impact the Des Moines community. Leaving the Social Club will be sad, but I will be able to leave with a fresh perspective and a better sense of how non-profit organizations operate and thrive.

I want to thank Oakridge for giving me the opportunity to work with such amazing people at the DMSC in the heart of Des Moines. Oakridge not only gave me an opportunity to earn my first real paycheck this summer, but they also gave me the chance to discover what kind of career I might want to pursue in the future. Thanks, Oakridge, for allowing me to embark upon this astounding journey with a talented group of helpful individuals to help me along the way.”